The Golden Triangle of Asturias – 3 great cities now out of reach for the UK

The Golden Triangle of Asturias – 3 great cities now out of reach for the UK

For a glimpse of authentic Spain, the beautiful region of Asturias provides an opportunity to sample not just one or two, but three cities in one weekend.

IMPORTANT UPDATE – NOVEMBER 2018

From Stansted, a flight of one and a half hours with easyJet used to get you to Asturias airport. From there, Aviles, Gijon and Oviedo are no more than 40 minutes away.

Alas, since the end of October 2018 the route has stopped with no plans for it to be restarted by easyJet or anyone else for that matter. Asturias has now been cut off from the UK in terms of direct flights. This is criminal and something needs to be done.

If you’re passionate about Asturias then visit the following petition and make your voice heard along with the 15,000 others who have already signed – https://www.change.org/p/gobierno-principado-asturias-mantener-vuelos-asturias-london-stansted-keep-london-stansted-asturias-flights

If you want to know why I’m so disappointed at not being able to get to Asturias with ease, please read on.

Aviles

Travelling between the three also allows you to take a peek at the magnificent Picos de Europe, mountains stretching across the north of Spain. You can almost smell the apples used for making the region’s famous cider. The regional chain of Tierra Astur provides an opportunity to join the locals in trying out the cider – there are four outlets across Asturias and are a great way to discover this and other local specialities.

Tierra Astur

And you will see plenty of quirky horrios or grain stores which are quite unique to northern Spain and Portugal.

Horrio

Aviles

Aviles is an enchanting little city. Smallest of the three with a population of around 80,000 this puts it on a par with Burnley.  It is closest to the airport and in my opinion, the ideal base for exploring the area.

The NH Palacio de Aviles is without doubt the best hotel in town with fabulous gardens but depending on the season you can get a lovely double room at around €75 per night. And if you struggle to find your exact room after an encounter with cider, the night porter is both friendly and helpful 😉

NH Hotel

NH Hotel gardens

The old town is small but beautifully preserved. Plaza Espana, the main square is surrounded by bars and restaurants, each with outdoor seating and their own specialities.  In fact there are a number of squares, some quite obvious, others fairly well-hidden which all seem to house a number of opportunities for feeding and watering.

Plaza Espana

Aviles

Aviles is incredibly cheap for a break. Most of the bars offer a complimentary tapa in addition to a wide range of paid for treats. These can vary from crisps and sandwiches to mini-stews and honks of barbecued meat.  Just watch out if you are planning on going to a restaurant for a main meal – leave a little room for the freebies in other bars. I’ve been stuffed to the gills only to be faced with a bar owner who seemed to take offence at my refusal of his croquettes. Eventually I relented and forced them down!

Free tapas

Gijon

Gijon is pronounce ‘Heehon’ but most football fans will know that. It is the largest city in Asturias with a population of about 275,000 which ranks it alongside Stoke-on-Trent.

It certainly has more of a city feel that its two close neighbours and at first glance is more gritty, especially when you land at the grim bus station. But Gijon is in fact a rough diamond. The Playa de San Lorenzo has a delightful promenade which leads all the way to the Parque de Isabel la Católica and the football stadium, home of Sporting Gijon.

Gijon

Gijon

Sporting Gijon

The Old Town and marina area sits to the west of San Lorenzo. It is more sprawling than Aviles and doesn’t quite have the same charm but is well worth an explore.

Oviedo

Oviedo has a regal feel to it. It has a population of 220,000 which is similar to that of Oldham. Quite frankly, that is about the only similarity. Wide boulevards lead from the bus and railway stations down towards the city centre and old town. There are large parks and gardens offering pleasant green space and recreational opportunities.

Oviedo

The historic centre is predominantly pedestrianised with large squares and narrow atmospheric streets. There are bars and restaurants a plenty, many with outdoor seating areas.

Oviedo

Oviedo also has a number of interesting statues around the town including one of Woody Allen. Apparently it is his favourite city and the setting for part of his 2008 film Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Oviedo

Here I am with another statue, this one The Traveller, which I thought was rather apt.

The Traveller

When I visited with Mr G we witnessed a near miss between an old lady and a reversing bin lorry / garbage truck whilst we were sat outside a bar. She was completely oblivious to the movement of the truck. The driver didn’t look anywhere. A collision was avoided by a matter of centimetres as we and some other local drinkers jumped up to draw the driver’s attention to his potential manslaughter action. In the end, the old lady wandered off unscathed. The ensuing argument between one of our drinking neighbours and the driver was amusing until the point I thought the driver might attempt to deliberately run his adversary over. It’s times like this when I wish my Spanish stretched beyond ordering of food and drink – then I could have explained what really was being said instead of speculating. And I might have learned some regional profanity!

Asturias in Summary

The last time we made this trip we walked almost 35 miles over the three days. This certainly helped work off the wine and tapas that we consumed in that time.

Aviles

I love discovering places in popular countries that are largely undiscovered. Asturias is certainly one of those regions. I’m always torn about writing about these gems and letting the world know how special they are. On the one hand I’d love more people to see the beautiful places that I’ve been fortunate to experience.

On the other I’d like to keep it secret and continue to enjoy its charms in relative calm.

If you want to know more about Asturias, use the comment box below or via my Facebook page.

Txiki Stu

More photos of Asturias

Aviles

Gijon bull ring

Aviles

Aviles

Aviles

Aviles

Aviles

Aviles

Aviles

Oviedo

Oviedo

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